Despite senior Taber Spani’s career-high 33 points, the ninth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols could not hold their lead down the stretch, falling to No. 19 Texas A&M 66-62 in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
The Lady Vols (24-7) led by as many as 10 points midway through the second half, but Texas A&M (23-9) steadily chipped away at the lead.
Freshman Courtney Walker scored just four points for the Aggies, but both baskets came down the stretch. She hit a jumper with 35 seconds left to put Texas A&M ahead 64-62, which proved to be the game winner as the Lady Vols missed their final two shots.
The loss snapped a streak of three consecutive trips to the SEC finals for the Lady Vols, the tournament’s No. 1 seeds and regular-season champions.
Spani was near perfect from the field, shooting 11 of 13 from the floor. She hit all five of the team’s three pointers, going 5 of 6 from behind the arc. She also led the team with eight rebounds.
Senior Meighan Simmons added 10 points.
Four Texas A&M players finished in double figures, led by Courtney Walker with 18 points.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle with the lead changing hands nine times.
Kristi Bellock hit a jumper with 7:49 left in the half to spark an 11-0 run for the Aggies. Texas A&M went from four points down to taking a 29-22 lead.
The Lady Vols responded with an 8-0 run to take a 30-29 lead on a layup by Kamiko Williams. Texas A&M reclaimed the lead and entered halftime ahead 35-33.
Spani provided a bulk of the Lady Vols’ scoring in the half with 18 points.
The Lady Vols opened the second half on a 7-0 run, going ahead 41-35 with a 3-pointer by Spani. Tennessee stretched its lead to 10 points at 50-40 after Jasmine Jones hit a jumper, but Texas A&M was not done yet.
Texas A&M went on an 8-0 run to close the Lady Vols’ lead to 50-48 with 9:54 left. The Aggies eventually tied the game at 54-54 on a jumper by Courtney Williams.